Business survival and growth mean being prepared to change aspects of your business and sometimes change the business model including historical plans or processes when they are no longer yielding the best results.
However, before implementing change directors and business owners should think carefully about how they should be introduced.
Too often the approach is “top down”, where somebody senior, or the CEO, has an idea and decides it should be implemented. Unfortunately, with this approach the changes often do not take root and often this is due to a lack of planning and a failure to involve others, in particular those who are necessary to implement the change and those who are affected by its consequences.
Involve employees for successful change
If, however, a business has a culture of continuous improvements and involves employees in the process of identifying and determining changes that need to be made, the chances of successful implementation are considerably higher.
While time spent discussing change with others may take longer, generally it will mean that not only do people understand the need for a change but they are likely to be invested in making it work. Furthermore, consulting with those “at the sharp end” sends out the message that their competence and their views are trusted and valued.
It is a theme that underlies the arguments in the book “Being Human” by Steve Hilton, former adviser to David Cameron, which examines the structure and effectiveness of government, business, politics and various sectors such as education, the NHS and business. The book advocates that power and decision-making should, as far as possible, be delegated to a local level for people to feel that they are involved and have influence.
Equally, in a culture of continuous improvement, where as many people as possible in a business are engaged, it is possible to make smaller, incremental changes rather than one gigantic change that has the potential to cause massive disruption.
The process of engagement early on will identify any resistance and address it before actually effecting the envisaged change.
Indeed, a consultative approach is more likely to result in initiatives being successful than decisions that start off as a good idea by management being sabotaged because those who have to work with them have not been asked whether the change is actually workable let alone beneficial.